What looks like a reading, in what could be my work
In 1993, I came across a Claude Lelouche 1992 movie entitled La Belle Histoire, where two times existed alongside each other, one two thousand years ago, the other during the nineties of the twentieth century.
During the first time, Jesus Christ, surrounded by disciples and relatives, carried his cross though the alleys of burning Jerusalem. During the second time, a guy called Jesus, performed by the same actor, worked as a torero in a circus (owned by the traitor or protagonist in both times).
The plot goes on and the movie ends with both Jesuses not able to clean the world even with miracles.
The cynico-sarcastic pattern of handling burning Jerusalem backed by the flamenco-pop music of the Gipsy Kings changed my career as a visual artist.
I loved then the idea of solving visual problems by sarcasm. I find it powerful when done properly.
The Cairo at the end of the century, cosmopolitan in its own way, is the place for opposing/conflicting extremes. Satellite channels offer entirely intact (uncensored) products, versus official channels delivering static culture.
Nouveau-wealth versus overt poverty.
Extreme left political ideologies versus extreme faith-oriented right-winged ones.
Authentic values stand weak in front of glamorous consumerism.
Contemporary civilization is able to weld all.
We are then left to create our own heroes.
In the Lelouche movie, heroes of today are the sons of those of yesterday.
In our daily life nothing comes out of the blues. Everything is rooted. Including our heroes.
Yesterday’s icons took us to heaven, or so we hoped.
Today’s icons take us to sweet transient pleasures; make us practice feelings of love, hate, desire, and vanity, and everything else away from heaven and hell.
We are then left to create our own icons,
With a cynical smile.
Technically speaking, I like to think of myself as an image-maker, not just a painter. I look at, and handle, paint and printed images on canvas equally. I do not care much to integrate the image with the texture and composition of the painting. Rather I use little paint to correct and perfect the cutout photo-images from printed publicity or commercials, a process similar to that used to retouch photographic images.
If I can make the images move and speak I will.
One of my objectives when I work is to create a new-age semi-synthetic image, with sometimes industrial perfection, similar to that used in creating installations (thinking as artist), or can-live-without accessory products (thinking as consumer who lives at the turn of a century/millennium).
The aim is to have an image that has our new-age heroes; novel messiahs who will take us to new heavens, who can either carry both our hopes and sins, or carry the risk of not being interesting.
Members of the new faith have to look trendy, glamorous, perfect; the perfection of Versace saints, and turbine-engine-winged angels.
We have to create them, with a cynical smile.
Cairo, September 2000.